These Niche Gyms Are Offering Some of L.A.’s Wildest Workouts

From a viking-inspired strength class to weed-assisted stretching, if you can imagine in, you can find it

In a city obsessed with fitness, it’s no surprise that there’s no shortage of niche gyms. from yoga with goats to weed-assisted stretching—if you can imagine it, you can find It here. Here are a few of our favorite spots to sweat it out in L.A.

Nerdstrong Gym

Embrace your geekhood at this Valley gym where the exercise regimen is centered on your favorite mythological and comic book heroes. You can channel your inner Thor by training like a Nordic warrior in the Viking Strength class. Or sign up for a Boss Monster session to battle übervillains like the Goblin King and Venom. There’s also a Valkyrie group training class exclusively for women and nonbinary clients. Its online community offers motivational support—sans gym rat machismo. 13131 Sherman Way, North Hollywood.

The Wavvy Cloud

Promoting holistic cannabis care, the studio is a healing collective that melds spiritual energy and the body. Stoned Yoga begins with a group smoke (or CBD tea if ganja is not your thing). The class is then guided through deep stretching exercises and restorative movements meant to relieve physical pain, tightness, and stress. Keep your buzz going after class with one of the many CBD products from the in-house store. Follow the staff’s example and ride share. Various locations.

Tempest Freerunning Academy

Parkour, which began as a French military training program, is all about efficiency—getting to an end point as directly as possible. The practice of “freerunning” aims to embellish these movements with flashy spins and kick flips. The academy relies on obstacle courses reminiscent of Super Mario games to challenge its customers. Participants clamber up six-foot “brick” walls, leap across the gym over brightly colored building blocks, and flip from a ledge to a grand finish. Falling is just part of the fun—a sprawl of foam cushions softens landings. Just like video games, there are ways to level up, too: colored bands are Tempest’s take on martial arts belts, with more difficult classes becoming unlocked as you progress. 3337 Jack Northrop Ave., Hawthorne, and 19821 Nordho Place, Suite 115, Chatsworth.

Laughing Frog Yoga

Strike the garland pose with the adult goats, Doc and Gizmo, or stretch into downward facing dog with the kids, Frankie and Clover at the only L.A. studio with these classes. Each furry critter has its own fan base. If you’re not in the mood for a four-legged workout partner, you can choose from a number of more conventional classes. 12217 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 205, Sawtelle.

Cirque School

Home to trapeze and aerial performance group Troupe Vertigo, the school offers classes in trapeze, aerial silks, hand balancing, and body contortion guided by actual circus trainers. Adults don’t get to have all the fun; little ones can join Cirque Kids for dance and wire walking lessons. 5640 1⁄2 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood.

Sandbox Fitness

The beach meets the gym: All workouts are held in a silica-free sandpit. One of the most popular classes, Surfset, consists of a waterless surfboard routine that mimics wave riding. You’ll learn to keep your balance while doing push-ups—a skill every Angeleno should have. 13557 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks.


Founder Leyon Azubuike grew up in a family of boxers. A former USA National Tournament heavyweight competitor, he opened a boxing gym to share his knowledge. Sessions vary from entry level to advanced, and all are run by experienced coaches who’ve spent time sparring in the ring. 10250 Santa Monica Blvd., Century City, and 1415 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica.

Stronghold Climbing Gym

Housed in the former Edison power plant at the Brewery Arts Complex, the gym is a climber’s nirvana. The interior is sleek and clean, with glossy black mats and vibrant footholds jutting out of cool gray walls. One glance at the climbing terrain—the highest peak soars to 48 feet—and the need for a towering structure makes sense. Short, angled cliff faces allow for cable-free ascendance, and problem sets change weekly for fresh challenges. Aspiring rock jocks can take on the behemoth of a training ground known as the Pit. 650 S. Avenue 21, Lincoln Heights.

S Factor

Former actress Sheila Kelley founded her studio so that people can stay in shape while getting in touch with the movement of their bodies. But Kelley’s practice extends beyond the physical, aiming to strengthen the mind and soul while addressing topics such as femininity and sensuality. Trainees grind in mirrorless rooms with low, ambient lighting and feel-good music. Some sessions focus more on spins and balance; others emphasize floor tricks and dancing. If straddling a pole is intimidating, no worries—the FFM (Fluid Feminine Movement) classes offer the same sweat-inducing workouts without the prop. 5225 Wilshire Blvd., Hancock Park.

Krav Maga Unyted

With origins tracing to the Israel Defense Forces, Krav Maga is a form of self-defense that focuses on the body’s natural movements and instinctual reflexes. Gym owner Jarret Waldman’s passion for the discipline took him to the original founder of the practice, Imi Litchenfield. After trekking to Israel to further his training, Waldman returned to L.A. to open his studio, which draws an eclectic mix of Angelenos, from members of the LAPD to celebrities to stay-at-home moms. 772 Walnut St., Pasadena, and 334 S. Main St., Suite 1106, downtown.

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